Posts Tagged ‘St Nicolas Church’

What’s the point of ordained ministry anyway?

July 24, 2012
Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas

Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas

What do we need Bishops for? Do we need them?

No one seemed to know, least of all the panel.

One panel member said people she knew who were friends, had changed when they became Bishops.

Another said they become spineless.

The United Reform Church has an entirely different system. No Bishops. A church calls its minister. He or she, applies for the job, if the church like he or she, they are called to take up the post. Moderators act to resolve any problems that may arise between church and clergy. They are not in charge of the church, nor senior to the minister.

At the time of the Reformation, there were no Bishops, the Bible was seen to be the authority. Under James I, Bishops were brought back in.

Even within churches there is a hierarchy.

Church of England, did, maybe still does, use psychometric tests to determine suitability of clergy.

Do we need clergy? What is their role? Can we do without them?

Clergy claim their job is a calling. Clergy claim there’s is a stressful job.

40% of clergy in the Church of England are due to retire in the next ten years. This will cause a crisis in the church.

Following the discussion I asked the Minister of Guildford URC why the Worship of Mammon? He denied the large banner poster on entry to the church. He was adamant not true, he would not permit. I showed him a photo.

I then gave him two books for his church:

Discussion held at St Nicolas Church in Guildford: Father Andrew (St Nicolas), Rev Philip Jones (Guildford United Reformed Church), Canon Barbara Messham (All Saints Church).

Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas during July.

Once again failure to post information on the main noticeboard (the only one most people see) facing the High Street and the bridge over the River Wey. No mention on website either!

An African Christmas

December 10, 2011
An African Christmas

An African Christmas

An African Christmas, Christmas Carols with Occam Singers at St Nicolas Church, with an interlude of African Sanctus by Fanshawe, and readings by Virginia McKenna OBE.

The concert started with the lights dimmed and the Occam Singers at the back of the church singing, they then walked in a candlelit procession to the front. Excellent percusionist.

For me the highlight was the reading of three African Christmas stories by actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, wonderful delivery of equally wonderful stories.

The Legend of the Showoff Who Prepares For the Visit of Jesus on Christmas Day
Parable of What Language Does God Speak?
The Parable of the Person Who Couldn’t Find God

Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers had starring roles in Born Free, a film about lions in Kenya. I saw it as a child and can still remember seeing it. This association with lions led to the setting up of a charity 27 years ago to fight for animals in captivity, in zoos and circuses, this led to the protection of animals in the wild, then their habitat, and finally a holistic approach that also includes the people, with the focus on children and their education.

The Born Free Foundation operates mainly in Africa, but also now in India and Sri Lanka.

The concert was a fund raising event for the Born Free Foundation.

Talking to Virginia McKenna at a reception later, where she was manning a table for the Born Free Foundation, I said how much her African stories reminded me of the stories often told by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. My regret was that I did not have one of his books on me as I would have happily have given her a copy. I did though give her a Christmas card with a talk by Canon Andrew White that he gave a few weeks ago and noted the address of this blog for more information.

Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

The Occam Singers is a 40 strong chamber choir based in the Surrey village of Ockham. It was from the same village the medieval philosopher William of Occam, he of the sharp razor.


Synchronicity: Earlier in the day on my way to the concert I stumbled upon Tutu: The Authorised Portrait, one of those books that is an absolute must have.

St Nicolas Church really must get their act together re their notice board. No poster for this concert, but there was an outdated poster for something that took place on the 6 December (St Nicolas Day). Earlier in the afternoon I had been inside the church during rehearsals and seen posters for two carol concerts at St Nicolas. It goes without saying neither were on the notice board outside.

Guildford Boiler Room Carol Service evening Sunday 11 December 2011 at Stoke Pub, Guildford.

Keystone Spirit evening Tuesday 13 December 2011 at Keystone Pub (behind St Nicolas Church), Guildford.

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

October 29, 2010
Professor Adel Sharif

Professor Adel Sharif

talking to Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum

talking to Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum

Religion is a submission to God and services to His creations. — Prophet Mohammed

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. — Albert Einstein

What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind. What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living. — Albert Einstein

It is the inspiration of my faith and the events in my home country Iraq as well as the opportunity given to me in my host country, the UK, that influenced and allowed me to apply the knowledge I acquired, and to focus my research on water and energy for the benefit of society and the wellbeing of mankind. — Professor Adel Sharif

Lord, I believe in you, and You believe in me. Let’s continue working together. — Paulo Coelho

Only mediocrity is safe. Take your risks and be the best. — Paulo Coelho

A talk given by Professor Adel Sharif at the Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum on 27 October 2010 at Saint Nicolas Church in Guildford.

The meeting was packed. It was also very diverse in terms of age, gender, faith and nationality.

Professor Adel Sharif, as well as being a professor of water engineering at Surrey University and founder and director of Aqua Osmotics is also a devout Muslim. Born in a village in Iraq, he has travelled a long way to his post at Surrey University. It is his faith that inspires his work.

It is a strongly held belief of Professor Adel Sharif that it is faith that produces great science and great scientists. The same is true in the arts.

I saw an example of this when the previous week in London I saw at the V&A the Sistine Tapestries by Raphael. I see it when I read the works of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, a devout Catholic whose faith inspires his work. On the day I was in London he asked for a global prayer to give thanks and that he would continue to write. I hear it when I listen to the works of Bach. Hildegard von Bingen saw herself as being ‘a feather on the breath of God’. Stone masons working on mediaeval cathedrals carved stone that no one would ever see, but they knew God would see their work.

The basic premise of the talk by Professor Adel Sharif was that there is no conflict between religion and science, that it is a symbiosis between the two that has advanced civilisation. Men are driven to achieve great things, not through greed or wealth or fame, but through faith. Those who say there is a conflict have no understanding of religion, no understanding science, it is an artificially contrived conflict.

Is there a human mission? Do we have a purpose in life? What are we here for, what is our role?

Scientists have not attempted to answer this fundamental question, as they thought it is of a philosophical nature.

Philosophy and religion, are interested in such a subject.

The States of Man can be plotted on an exponential curve against time. Each period that we can identify is of shorter duration, each building upon the knowledge acquired in the past. We can identify six states.

Hunter gatherer – physical strength, endurance, knowledge of the natural world.

Agrarian economy – understanding the soil, seasons and natural cycles.

Industrial age – skilled artisans, engineers, technicians and managers for the production line.

Technology age – technical abilities and skills, but applied to software, design and intellectual capacity.

Information age – turning information into knowledge, building virtual teams to share that knowledge and applying it to create value.

Sustainable age – unlocking the insight, intellect, energy, emotional and spiritual intelligence and value generation capabilities of everyone to address the problems to be solved and opportunities to be grasped.

The sustainable age is the future. Some of us are there but the rest still wallow in their ignorance. If we do not enter this age, recognise Gaia, the Earth as a living system where all the living creatures, ecosystems and geophysical process work to maintain the earth for life, then we have no future. Some may recognise this as similar to that described in the Culture novels by Iain M Banks.

Prophesy and Inspiration

Knowledge of the future (usually said to be obtained from a divine source).

A prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration.

Bible prophecy, or “biblical prophecy” refers to prophecies in the Bible, to passages in the Bible which predict future events, which are believed.

Islamic Prophecy is “Inspiration”.

Knowledge and Science

Knowledge, information, learning, erudition, lore, scholarship.

Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.

Science is organized knowledge. – Herbert Spencer

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning.

This brings us to the question: Is knowledge possessed only by humans and or God? Furthermore do we create or only acquire/discover knowledge?

We discover, we stumble upon, we find. We cannot create knowledge. If we did, we would have many different universes. We all inhabit the same universe. If not the laws of physics would be different depending upon who created them.

An interesting philosophical discussion takes place in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Were the Laws of Motion as discovered by Isaac Newton spring into being when he discovered them or were they lying around waiting to be discovered.

It is important that we distinguish between creating and making. This is not clear in poor translations of the Koran. To create is something out of nothing. When we make we are transferring, for example baking a cake.

There is a difference between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge.

Scientific knowledge

Scientific method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

Science, and the nature of scientific knowledge have also become the subject of Philosophy. As science itself has developed, knowledge has developed a broader usage which has been developing within biology/psychology — as meta-epistemology, or genetic epistemology.

Religious meaning of Knowledge

In Christianity (Catholicism and Anglicanism) knowledge is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Hindu Scriptures present two kinds of knowledge: second-hand knowledge is knowledge obtained from books, hearsay, etc. and knowledge borne of direct experience, ie knowledge that one discovers for oneself either through observation or experimentation.

In Islam, knowledge is given great significance. “The All-Knowing” (al-’Alim). The Qur’an asserts that knowledge comes from God (2:239). Islamic scholars, theologians and jurists as well as scientists are often given the title alim, meaning “knowledgeable”.

Knowledge is one of the three pillars of Islam.

Science and belief

Belief is a subjective personal basis for individual behaviour, while Truth is an objective state independent of the individual.

Philosophy has traditionally defined knowledge as justified true belief.

The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true.

A false belief is not considered to be knowledge, even if it is sincere.

Science is organized knowledge. — Herbert Spencer

A True Belief, therefore, is Science.

I may sincerely believe the moon is made of green cheese or the earth is flat, but it is a false belief not upheld by empirical evidence.

Wave-particle duality of light – Light may not be either, we have a model that works in some circumstances but not in all.

Science and Religion

Science is a system where beliefs are derived from objective methodologies.

Religion is a system of beliefs based on faith.

If the beliefs are true; then science and religion are compatible.

Science is True Beliefs (submission).

Technology provides tools to serve mankind.

Science & Technology are therefore compatible with religion and are True beliefs too.

Miracles, Discoveries and Inventions

Miracle: an event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. An extraordinary event which follows natural laws and principles that we have not discovered yet. For example prophecies.

Discovery: A making known; revelation; disclosure; Finding out or ascertaining something previously unknown or unrecognised. It is a new knowledge.

Invention: A new device, method, or process developed from study and experimentation. It is an incremental development of known knowledge. It is the making/converting process of knowledge.

In How to Know God, Deepak Chopra notes that sages, prophets, saints and mystics can cross with ease the transition zone, something the rest of us have the potential to do.

The Birth of Civilisation

The earliest civilisation arose in the Middle East in around 3,500 BC in what is now Iraq. The first cities, Ur and Uruk, were built in Mesopotamia on the banks of the Euphrates. Ur is mentioned in the Bible as the birthplace of Abraham (2,000 BC). It was here we had the first religious temple, the first writing, the first government, people of taste who had table manners.

It was in Iraq we saw a flourishing of the arts and mathematics and the sciences. The Golden Age of Islam (750-1100). Islamic scholars were inspired by their faith. A centre of learning was established that drew upon Persian, Greek and Indian knowledge. Great works were produced in the field of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, geography, geometry, algebra, chemistry, optics. Zero was invented.

Ibn al Haytham (965-1040) (Alhazen) was the First Scientist to test hypotheses with verifiable experiments, developing the scientific method. To discover the truth about nature, Ibn al Haytham reasoned, one had to eliminate human opinion and allow the universe to speak for itself through physical experiments.

Faith inspired similar progress in Europe in the Arts and Science.

We have seen an exponential development in the sciences, but not in religion, where too often we hear the voice of the fundamentalists, the bigots.

This is the face we see of Islam. We see intolerance. And yet that was not the view we heard from Professor Adel Sharif a devout Muslim. It is not the view Benazir Bhutto presents in Reconciliation, the book she was working on when she was killed.

The first word in the Koran is read. It is seen as a command. To be able to read we require education. It does not say men read, or only men read. It says read.

To learn, to acquire knowledge, is a fundamental precept of Islam.

One thing Professor Adel Sharif told me he had learnt in life is patience. If something happens it is for a reason. Pause and reflect. That obstacle you hit is to give you a chance to take a different path, maybe the path less travelled. When one door closes, another door opens. Some people are deemed lucky, others unlucky. No, it is is that some fail to take the opportunities that life offers us, do not dare take risks, then bemoan their ill fate and lack of luck.

At the end of the evening Professor Adel Sharif offered me a lift to the station. I was too polite to decline his kind offer, it was actually quicker for me to walk, and as a consequence I missed my train with an hour to wait in the cold for the next train. I cursed as I watched it pulling out, 30 seconds earlier and I would have caught it. I calmed down and slowly walked back to the station entrance. There patiently waiting for me was Professor Adel Sharif. We agreed we would go off to a Turkish restaurant at the top end of the High Street where we and his son enjoyed an interesting conversation.

Maktub: What will be will be. It is written.

Synchronicity: On my way home I found the two quotes by Paulo Coelho which had been sent to me earlier in the evening. The two quotes were pertinent to and summed up that which we had been discussing. Not only that, synchronicity and Paulo Coelho both got a mention in our conversation.

I arrived at the meeting early and whilst chatting with other early arrivals I expressed my concern at the sale of so-called Peace Oil at St Mary’s Church and the deception that was being practised. All agreed that it was a scandal and Peace Oil should be removed and it would be far better to have on sale the olive oil Holy Trinity and St Mary’s had brought over from Palestine.

Up coming events

Faiths in Harmony Guildford and Godalming Inter-Faith Forum at St Nicolas Church in Guildford. 3pm, Sunday 14 November 2010.

Israeli Apartheid: Hosted by West Surrey Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid and campaign co-ordinator of A Just Peace for Palestine, will talk of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. 7-30pm Thursday 18 November 2010, St Nicolas Parish Centre, Guildford.

Woking Quakers as part of Interfaith Week are putting on a show from the Edinburgh Fringe On Human Folly by the Plain Quakers theatre company. Friends Meeting House, 41 Park Road Woking. 2pm Sunday 21 November 2010.

Also see

Islamic Civilization and Muslim Thinkers

Reflections of the Islamic scholar Ibn Sina

The Alchemist

The Valkyries

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Gospel of Thomas

How to Know God

God Is

Christian Theology and Gaia

The Tao of Physics

The Dancing Wu Li Masters


Where does religion come from?

Changing reality

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela today

July 14, 2010
poster at St Nicolas

poster at St Nicolas

‘These travellers were called pilgrims, and their symbol was the scallop shell.’ — Paulo Coelho

‘I looked up at the sky; the Milky Way spread across it, reflecting the immensity of the Road we would have to travel.’ — Paulo Coelho

‘We will come back changed. Of that I am certain. But, of course that is why you go on pilgrimage in the first place; to find the holy, stumble upon God in action, and be changed for ever by the experience.’ — Canon Trevor Dennis

Last week when Dr Catherine Ferguson talked of the history of the pilgrimage she showed a graph showing how the numbers of pilgrims had grown exponentially since the mid-1980s, a growth that coincided with the publication of The Pilgrimage by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. This week Catherine was to talk about the pilgrimage today and the modern day pilgrim, herself being one of the pilgrims having just returned from walking part of the walk.

Her talk was split into two halves, the first the practicalities of actually walking the route, the second what it meant to be a pilgrim.

Catherine made a grand entrance, dressed as she would be walking the route with her rucksack on her back. She then proceeded to empty her rucksack explaining what each item was for.

She managed to travel surprising light. A single change of clothing, water, minimalist medical kit, a banana (essential as you never knew when you would find food), water, books (the heaviest items), toilet paper (essential), torch, journal, camera, phone, charger for both, change of shoes, sleeping bag.

On her rucksack she had a scallop shell. The sign she was a pilgrim.

For the pilgrim it is not a rucksack or back pack, it is a mochillo, in which you carry your life’s possessions.

The medieval pilgrim would have wore a cape and a hat and carried a stick. Paulo Coelho provides an excellent description in The Pilgrimage, his journal of walking the Way of St James.

Every pilgrim has his credencial. This is essential as it is stamped en route and is required as proof that you have actually walked the route.

To obtain the compostela, you have to have walked the last 100km (or cycled the last 200km). This means the statistics on who has walked the route are not that sound, as they only count those who are awarded a compostela, those who walk that final 100km. Many walk different parts of the route, many do not make claim for the compostela.

way marker

way marker

The route is waymarked with yellow arrows and scallop shells. Though not always easy to find!

Don Elias Valiña Sampedro, a priest at O Cebreiro, did his 1967 Doctoral Thesis on the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Then it was but a memory he wrote ‘there survives only a remote memory of the Jacobean pilgrimage.’ He wrote and published a book on the route, Caminos a Compostela (1971). In 1972 just six pilgrims were awarded their compostela. Caminos a Compostela did not therefore have a major impact! It was then he decided, with the help of his family, to mark the route with yellow arrows. The route though you follow is your own personal route. This he started to do in 1973. He died in 1989.

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho was published in Portuguese in 1987. An estimated in excess of 200,000 pilgrims are expected to walk the route in 2010, a Holy or Jubilee year when 25 July falls on a Sunday.

Places to stay are mixed and varied. Barns, churches private houses, monasteries, bars, church towers. Most of the places are fairly basic.

You are only allowed to stay one night, then you have to move on. This very much forces one to live in the here and now, for the moment, as how ever much you are enjoying it, it is not to be repeated, you have to move on.

Very much as Youth Hosteling used to be like up until the mid-1980s, when the YHA degenerated into a cheap chain of doss houses. You collected your hostel stamps at each hostel you stayed at, you had to arrive under your own steam, and could only stay a maximum of three nights.

When on a pilgrimage your requirements become very minimal: where will I sleep, find shelter, food and water? This is good for the soul. It reminds us how most of the world who subsist on less than a dollar a day have to survive.

You very quickly shed your socio-economic status. You are a lonely pilgrim on a route. What you see is what you get.

Eivind Luthen:

Liminality: to be a pilgrim is to opt out of one society and join another. To be a pilgrim is to tear away from the standard way of thinking. As a pilgrim you aim towards the unknown. In an age stamped by individualism and self-assertion the pilgrim dares towards humility: there is no class distinction on the way. People will take you for what you are, not what you represent.’

Why do we go on a pilgrimage? Ask a pilgrim and you are unlikely to get a straight answer.

The reasons for going on a pilgrimage are as many and varied and individual as the pilgrims on the pilgrimage: in memory of a much loved wife who has died, to forget finding the bodies of brutally killed neighbours, to leave behind crosses bearing the names of ones grandchildren. One lady brought along her harp and would give a recital whenever wherever. When Paulo Coelho undertook the pilgrimage it was to recover his sword.

It is the pilgrimage that is important not the destination. Paulo Coelho had to be reminded of this by his guide Petrus after spending several days walking around in circles.

For medieval man it was simple. It was good for the soul. It reduced time in purgatory. It could be a penance for a crime committed. When Paulo Coelho walked the Way of Saint James it was as a penance.

You were required to leave a will. If you were away a year and a day your wife could re-marry. It offered an easy way, maybe the only way, to get rid of your wife bar killing her.

There is stunning scenery and whose soul could not be uplifted.

On some days Catherine hardly noticed the landscape she was walking through. On those days she prayed.

The pilgrimage is not only a physical journey, it is also an inner journey, a spiritual journey. Those who undertake the pilgrimage come back changed.

The pilgrimage is a personal journey, that is why it is important that you do it on your own.

Halfway through Catherine became dispirited, she wanted to give up. Her eye was then caught by a poster for a monastery. It was a place she had always wished to visit and so she took a two day sabbatical from her pilgrimage and went off on a detour. She was glad she did. Beautiful cloisters, a beautiful service. One of the monks who befriended her was surprised to find she was there from England. She went off walking. The next day, about to catch the bus and return to her pilgrimage, the same monk from the previous day asked her why she was there. She said the beautiful architecture, the service, the singing. The monk said no, it was not beautiful, only God was beautiful. He blessed her and sent her on her way.

John Brierley (from The Route to Compostela):

‘The true temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built – yet the real beauty of the inner temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. An emphasis on beautiful structures can be a sign of unwillingness to exercise spiritual vision. As we walk through the landscape temple that is the camino and through the towns and cities spread out along the way, we pass some of the most physically striking religious buildings to be found anywhere in the world. But let us not confuse the messenger with the message and also help each other to search out that elusive inner altar.’

In answer to a question, Catherine said one fanatical young man who was expressing his own personal opinion thought that non-Catholics should not participate in Mass. He was not Spanish and did not in any way represent the experience of walking the route. Catherine actually could because she had been given a personal dispensation by the Catholic church.

I reminded of The Witch of Portobello where Athena is barred from taking Mass because she is divorced. She walks out and curses the church. The rules of the church being more important than grace. Paulo Coelho has Jesus looking in thinking he would not be welcome either.

I am also reminded of a scene in The Idiot described by Philip Yancey in What’s So Amazing About Grace . Jesus returns to earth at the time of the Inquisition. An old cardinal spots and recognises Jesus for who He is and orders His arrest and imprisonment. Visiting Jesus in his cell he tells Him that he will have to be executed a second time as the Church has had to spend the last millennium undoing all the harm he caused. [see The Grand Inquisitor]

Jesus dismissal of the Pharisees also comes to mind.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The Church of England discusses the exclusion or not of women and gays. To do so is to exclude more than half of the population!

Jesus welcomed everyone. He mixed with all stratas of society. No one was excluded!

Desmond Tutu (from a sermon at the Chapel of King’s College, London):

‘When Jesus spoke of being lifted up on the cross he said “I, if I be lifted up will draw..” – he didn’t say “I will draw some” – he said “I, if I be lifted up will draw ALL – draw all to me to hold them” all of us drawn into the divine embrace that excludes no-one – black, yellow, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female, young, old, gay, lesbian, so-called straight – yes it IS radical. All, all, ALL belong – Arafat, Sharon, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, Tony Blair, Palestinian, Israeli, Jew, Arab, Protestant, Catholic – all, ALL, all belong in this family.’

Whenever and wherever Catherine participated in Mass. It was a multicultural experience. Everyone was welcome and it was an uplifting experience. The official figures underestimate the multinational aspect of the pilgrimage, at least from Catherine’s personal observation.

Catherine described a lovely example of synchronicity. An absolute must for her to stay was San Nicolas, once belonging to the Knights Templar. She arrived only to find it was full. She walked off down the road and rested on a bridge to consider her options. A car pulled up and the driver asked where she wished to go. He said he would take her. He then offered her a stay at San Nicolas, it was he who ran it. There she met an Australian lady who she had met a few days previously. This lady had been on a pilgrimage to Walsingham. She showed her pictures of candles and the names inscribed. One was what Catherine had left with the name of her daughter Lucy! Another of the pilgrims was coming to work in the hospital in Guildford!

Talking to Catherine I explained why I was there. That I had walked to Loseley Park for the Celebrating Surrey Festival and had seen the poster at St Nicolas for the talks. Oh you must come to my talk on the Loseley Manuscripts she said. She then went on to tell me that the family were buried in the chapel at St Nicolas which was currently being restored.

The talk was preceded by Mass followed by eats and drinks. Catherine generously provided the wine and the food. Red wine from the region, though not the white (though Paulo Coelho would dismissively say white is not wine).

On leaving, Father Andrew (if it be he) thanked me for coming. No I said, it is I who should be thanking you for hosting such a wonderful talk and Catherine for giving it. Father Andrew has a blog Heart to Heart.

In discussing her personal experience of the pilgrimage Catherine radiated an aura of spirituality and belief that you would not find in most churches in a month of Sundays. It was a pleasure and honour to hear her speak.

After completing the pilgrimage you have to contribute or create something. Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist, many of his books have their roots somewhere along the Way to Saint James. His guide Petrus painted ‘a beautiful, immense picture’ that depicted all that had happened to him. Dr Catherine Ferguson gave two wonderful talks!

Synchronicity: A couple of days later I walked past Holy Trinity Church at the top of the High Street in Guildford and saw a large poster outside calling for equality of women in the church. Well done Holy Trinity! Late that night listening to the midnight news I heard that the Vatican had changed Church Law to make the attempted ordination of women a grave crime! Methinks the endemic sexual abuse within the Church is a grave crime, aided and abetted by cover-ups, more concerned with the tarnished reputation of the Church than the pain and suffering of the victims. It is not though a grave crime under Church Law to not report these sex crimes to the civil authorities.

Synchronicity: A few days after writing and publishing I learnt from Paulo Coelho that he has a street named after him in Santiago de Compostela, Rua Paulo Coelho. His comment was in response to a suggestion that Santiago de Compostela erects a statue in his honour for popularizing the pilgrimage.

Also see

The History of the Pilgrimage to Compostela

The Pilgrimage

Carolena’s Quest for the Sword

Tourists to Pilgrims

Cantigas de Santa Maria

Pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba

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